August 1, 2016

Warehouses deploy ancient rat remedy: cats

While on warehouse patrol, these felines don't paws to pounce on hungry vermin.

By DC Velocity Staff

Cat at Empirical Brewery
Venkman (named after one of the Ghostbusters) is one of the rat-catching cats at Chicago's Empirical Brewery. Venkman has his own Twitter feed.

Many modern warehouses are plagued by an ancient problem: vermin. Like the prehistoric farmers who struggled to keep hungry rats and mice out of their grain silos, some of today's facilities are afflicted with the destructive pests. A rat infestation can be a serious headache, triggering the spread of germs, forcing owners to throw out tainted food, requiring expensive exterminators, and breaking food-storage regulations by the handful.

Now, pet shelters in Chicago and Spokane, Wash., are promoting an equally ancient solution to the problem: cats. Anthropologists say that early humans may have domesticated wild cats to protect their precious grain, and now, 21st century logistics professionals can hire their furry descendants to patrol their DC premises.

Chicago's Tree House Humane Society and Spokane's SpokAnimal shelter both have a lot of feline mouths to feed. So about five years ago, both groups launched projects to find those feral cats a home ... and a job. For a fee, the organizations will establish a colony of cats in converted dog crates equipped with litter boxes, scratching posts, and toys. The new caretaker agrees to provide food and veterinary care, and in return, the cats get to work.

The feline security guards prowl their new beat, catching or scaring off rats in every corner of the warehouse, blocking the spread of disease, protecting valuable inventory, and looking cute while they do it. One famous warehouse cat at Chicago's Empirical Brewery even has his own Twitter account, head brewer Nevin McCown told CNN.

And, yes, here's a cat video.

And another:

The Feral Feline Brew Crew from Medill Reports on Vimeo.

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